Genital warts

  • Alternative Names

    Condylomata acuminata; Penile warts; Human papilloma virus (HPV); Venereal warts; Condyloma; HPV DNA test; Sexually transmitted disease (STD)


    Genital warts can be raised or flat, and are usually flesh-colored. They may appear as cauliflower-like growths. Sometimes they are so small and flat that they cannot be seen with the naked eye.

    Common places to find genital warts:

    • Females most often have warts inside or around the vagina or anus, on the skin around these areas, or on the cervix.
    • Males most often have warts on the penis, scrotum, groin area, or thighs, as well as inside or around the anus in those who have anal intercourse.
    • Both males and females may have warts on the lips, mouth, tongue, palate, or throat (larynx)

    Other symptoms are rare, but may include:

    • Increased dampness or moisture in the area of the growths
    • Increased vaginal discharge
    • Itching of the penis, scrotum, anal area, or vulva
    • Vaginal bleeding, with or after sexual intercourse

    Signs and tests

    Flesh-colored to white, flat or raised, single or clustered warts may be seen anywhere on the genitals.

    In women, a pelvic examination may reveal growths on the vaginal walls or cervix. Magnification (colposcopy) may be used to see lesions that are invisible to the naked eye. The tissue of the vagina and cervix may be treated with acetic acid (dilute vinegar) to make the warts visible.

    A Pap smear may note changes caused by HPV. Women with these types of changes often need more frequent Pap smears for a period of time.

    An HPV DNA test can identify whether you have a high-risk type of HPV that is known to cause cervical cancer. This test may be done:

    • As a screening test for women over age 30
    • In women of any age who have a slightly abnormal Pap test result